- The Electricity Act 2003 provides a governance framework for expanding electricity access in the country, both via grid extension as well as through standalone systems. Section 61 of the Act obligates the Central and State Governments to extend electricity access to all areas, including villages and hamlets, through rural electricity infrastructure development and connections to households.
Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY)
After the introduction of this landmark legislation on electricity, the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) was launched by the Government of India in April 2005, to extend electricity to all un-electrified villages in the country (over 100,000 at the time), and the intensification of electricity infrastructure in the electrified villages. The key features of the programme included the provision of Village Electrification Infrastructure (VEI) with distribution transformers of appropriate capacity in all villages and free connections to all below poverty line (BPL) households in the villages. Under the scheme, a 90% grant was provided by the Government of India and the remaining 10% as loan by the Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) to state governments. This was a paradigm shift from the earlier financing model wherein the central government used to provide soft loans to state governments for rural electrification. With strong support from the central government for rural electrification, the VEI was extended to around 110,000 villages during the period 2005-2013. Further, the central government also engaged central power sector enterprises NTPC, NHPC, Power Grid and DVC2 to implement the VEI in some states, in order to improve implementation efficiencies in partnership with state government rural electrification agencies and Discoms.
DeenDayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY)
In 2015, the Government of India launched the DeenDayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) which subsumed RGGVY and brought in an additional component of agricultural feeder separation. Extremely remote villages (18,500) that remained un-electrified under the RGGVY were taken up for electrification under this scheme and on 28 April, 2018, the milestone of complete village electrification in India was achieved. DDUGJY has also been crucial in providing support for strengthening sub-transmission and distribution networks in rural areas particularly focusing on the metering of distribution transformers, feeders and consumers in rural areas.
Mini-grids and standalone solar home systems
Acknowledging that the grid alone may not be able to provide access to all households, or may take a long time to reach un-electrified households in inaccessible areas, the central government also made several complementary efforts to support these programs through standalone mini-grids or solar home systems under DDUGJY. State governments also contributed through various off-grid energy access schemes and mini-grid policies to promote DRE solutions. All these supplementary efforts were crucial steps towards achieving universal energy access, especially to cover inaccessible areas where grid extension was difficult. Further, other programs such as UJALA were also launched to promote efficient energy use practices to better manage and reduce load demand.
Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (SAUBHAGYA)
In October 2017, Government of India launched the landmark Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (SAUBHAGYA), with the ambitious target of providing electricity connections to all un-electrified households (estimated to be around 40 million) by March 2019. Of these, the SAUBHAGYA scheme aimed to cover a total of 30 million un-electrified households (25 million rural and 5 million urban). To achieve this target by the deadline, around 2.2 million new connections were required to be provided per month. The program has been progressing steadily and as on July 31, 2018, 10 million connections have been provided across India at a rate of approximately 1 million connections per month since its launch.
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